LOS ANGELES– Diane Warren was in the recording studio with Sofia Carson working on her new song “Applause” when she received an unexpected phone call earlier this year. It was David Rubin, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and he had good news: she was getting an Oscar.
“I was like, ‘No I’m not. I’m the one who loses all the time,'” Warren said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I was in complete disbelief.”
The prolific songwriter had been nominated for Best Original Song 13 times at the Oscars. And 13 times she had gone home empty-handed, the last time at the ceremony earlier this year. However, Warren, 66, was never distressed or discouraged by this statistic. She loved being in the game. But she had begun to wonder if she was ever supposed to have one.
Warren will receive his honorary statuette on Saturday at the annual Governors Awards, alongside fellow recipients Euzhan Palcy, Peter Weir and Michael J. Fox, who receives the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She is the first female composer to receive the award.
“It’s the big Oscar,” she said. “And I still want to win one. But nomination is victory. It’s not the Grammys with, you know, 50 song categories. There are five songs in one category. To hear your name when they say these appointments? It’s like winning the lottery every time.
The first time she was nominated, for the song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which she co-wrote with Albert Hammond for the movie “Mannequin,” Warren didn’t hear her name called. She didn’t even know the nominations were happening. There were no campaign events or screenings. It just seemed to come out of nowhere.
“That was in the good old days,” she laughed. “Now I stay up all night. I’m too uncool to fall asleep and not give like—-. I’m just very uncool. And I stay up all night, and I’m glad I’m uncool. .
Warren developed an early passion for the power of songs in movies. She remembers “crying her eyes out” hearing John Barry and Don Black’s song for “Born Free” and being moved by Mark London’s song for “To Sir with Love.”
“They viscerally moved me,” she said. “Music doesn’t go to your brain. It goes to your heart. And you combine that with the right movie? It’s powerful.
It was, in other words, a natural addition to his hugely successful career. Some of his most famous Oscar-nominated songs include “Because You Loved Me”, from “Up Close and Personal”, “How Do I Live”, from “Con Air” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”. , from “Armageddon.” And she’s gotten a nomination almost every year since 2015.
And, though she loves every Oscar, she counts Lady Gaga’s 2016 performance of her survivors’ anthem “Til It Happens to You,” from “The Hunting Ground,” as one of her favorite performances.
“It was monumental for me,” she said. “She was hitting notes and I have no idea how she hit them, but it was so emotional. Then when these survivors stood up when people weren’t really talking about them at the time? I don’t think there’s been a better performance from me at the Oscars or almost anywhere.
She also loved playing the piano at the 2020 Oscars as Laura Pausini sang “Io sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead.”
“It was amazing,” Warren said. “I had never done anything like this before.”
Above all, Warren loves the Oscars and being part of this world. And she found it rather moving that she got the call about the award while working on “Applause,” which is included in the film “Tell It Like a Woman,” consisting of seven shorts directed by and on women.
The lyrics, she thought, seemed appropriate for the moment: “Give yourself a round of applause. You deserve it. Give yourself some respect because you’ve earned it. Give yourself some love because you are worth it. You’re worth it. You know, let them know.
“How crazy is that? said Warren. “I’m in the room doing this song and I’m going to the other room because the phone rings and that’s it? After all these years of trying to get an Oscar, it’s like, wow, what a time, right? »
Now she’s just trying to gather her thoughts for her speech and she’s pretty sure she’ll start crying immediately when she takes the stage on Saturday.
“It hasn’t even really struck me yet,” Warren said. “I know it’s going to really hit me on that that night. I don’t even know how I’m going to handle this. »
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.